Chat with Steve Phillips
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN MLB analyst Steve Phillips will drop by to take any baseball-related questions you may have.
The former general manager of the New York Mets guided the team to the World Series in 2000, working his way through the organization with which he played as a minor-leaguer. Now a fixture of ESPN's baseball coverage, Phillips offers a front-office perspective on the players and stories making news.
Send your questions now and join Phillips Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:08 PM)
Hey everyone, we're working on tracking down Steve!
Steve Phillips (1:11 PM)
Seems like the races are starting to define themselves a little bit, as the month of August is separating the contenders from the contenders. What's on everyone's mind?
Matt (St. Paul, MN)
Is the Twins expected 3rd place finish in the division going to torpedo any Joe Mauer-for-MVP talk? Batting .385 with 30 HR's by the end of the year would be pretty difficult to overlook, wouldn't it?
Steve Phillips (1:12 PM)
I think he's a very strong candidate regardless of what happens with the Twins. There is certainly precedent for an MVP coming from non-playoff contenders, as Alex Rodriguez did back with the Rangers. Mauer is having an unbelievable season and deserves consideration for the award.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Recent rough stretch for the Dodgers. Hard to watch close games go by the wayside. Is this a normal dip during a long season or is it something to be concerned with? Still a playoff team or should I creep closer to the ledge? Thanks.
Steve Phillips (1:14 PM)
They're still a playoff team, but you have to have some concern about starting pitching, with Billingsley coming back and Kuroda going on the DL, but I don't think the Giants or Rockies can overtake them. I love the Dodgers' bullpen depth, which should cover them until their rotation comes around.
Will Alex Gordon ever live up to the hype?
Steve Phillips (1:15 PM)
I think he'll end up being a good player over his career, not a great one. He just doesn't seem to be consistent enough offensively to hit for a high average or a lot of home runs. I think he's certainly part of the solution, not part of the problem, but he's not going to be somebody who carries that team on his back.
Dan (San Francisco)
Did you read Verducci's thoughts about how ridiculous retaliation for HBP's has become? Your thoughts? I agree with him completely. Last night ARod gets unintentionally hit in the 1st and in the bottom half CC throws behind Suzuki (and fortunately he then took him deep). It's pretty frustrating for the game to take on a different feel in the 1st inning.
Steve Phillips (1:18 PM)
I haven't read Verucci's take, but my own thoughts are that retaliation has become ridiculous only because the instigators aren't getting punished the way they should within the current system. Rather than going after retaliation, MLB should focus more on the first strike that leads to retaliation. If they find a way to punish the instigators, retaliation will be limited. If somebody else is going to punish a pitcher for a beanball pitch, then a player's teammate won't feel like they have to act.
Jordon W. (Tallahassee)
How do you feel about the Smoltz move for the Cards? Not in terms of risk (because that's obviously low), but in terms of actually helping the team in September and October?
Steve Phillips (1:19 PM)
Smoltz to the Cardinals makes a lot of sense for the Cardinals and for Smoltz. They could use a fifth starter and depth in their bullpen. Dave Duncan is the best at reclamation projects, and there is still a lot to work with with Smoltz. He is still effective against RHHs. Duncan could devise a plan for him to attack hitters, and I think it would be a tremendous move for the Cardinals. It'd reinforce their position atop the Central.
on the heels of winning 9 out of there past 11 games, as well amidst a current 14 game double digit hit streak, what says Monsieur phillips of the marlins playoff chances?
Steve Phillips (1:21 PM)
I think it's gonna be tough for the Marlins to sustain the kind of success necessary to make the playoffs, even as the wild card winner. They have good young talent and can beat you on any given day, but with good young players, the question becomes consistency. I just don't see the Marlins having the consistency necessary to make up ground and become a playoff team. They are a great story but will come up short, I think.
John (Spokane WA)
Texas, Boston, or TB for wildcard.. who ya got.. and given the Rangers success against LAA this season, do they have a chance to get back in the ALWest race?
Steve Phillips (1:22 PM)
No, I think the Angels will win the AL West. The Rangers will certainly vy for the wild card spot, but I think the Red Sox are the favorites. I do have grave concerns about their pitching. Wakefield will not be back shortly, and they need Matsuzaka back healthy as well. But I think the experience of the Red Sox will prevail in the end.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
With the latest scary injury to Hiroki Kuroda, do you think there is any way to better protect pitchers from such potential career ending injuries or is this just part of baseball?
Steve Phillips (1:23 PM)
I think it's just part of baseball. It certainly is scary, and teams always raise the question as to how to protect pitchers, but there just isn't anything right now that can be done to make that happen. Thank goodness his injury wasn't more serious. He should be able to come back and be effective before too long.
What has to happen for the Cubs to make it this year?
Steve Phillips (1:25 PM)
At this point, I'm starting to think they need a miracle. They seem to fall further behind every week. They will need their good players who have delivered subpar performances to dramatically turn things around. Those sort of performances don't just happen. I guess the Rockies got hot back in 2007, but that felt like a once-in-a-lifetime streak. I think the Cubs are running out of time and don't seem to have momentum on their side as the clock continues to tick.
Do you think that Stephen Strasburg deserves the contract the Nationals gave him?
Steve Phillips (1:27 PM)
The fact is that no player deserves that kind of money before having thrown any pitches at the MLB level. That said, the system is what the system is. He is an extraordinary talent who deserves to be the highest-paid amateur player transitioning into pro baseball. I was glad to see it get done despite every indication that it might not. It's awfully hard to tell a young man to walk away from $15 million without having thrown a pitch in pro baseball, even if you think he's worth more than that.
Jonathan (Columbus, OH)
Do you think that batting helmets meeting certain safety requirements should be mandatory by Major League Baseball (in light of head injuries)?
Steve Phillips (1:28 PM)
Yes, I think that, just like it regulates which bats are approved, should now start to do the same thing when it comes to helmets. Why not protect players, even if they don't want to protect themselves at times. It seems like there's no good reason not to implement that. They did it with base coaches, and there's no reason why they can't force players to do it.
Ross (Newton NJ)
Hey Steve, Is Tommy Hanson the NL Rookie of the Year?
Steve Phillips (1:30 PM)
That's a little early to determine. He certainly is a strong candidate, although Phillies fans will argue that Happ deserves it as well. I think the final month and a half will truly determine who the award will go to. Cardinals fans would make an argument that Colby Rasmus is having a year worthy of consideration.
Steve Phillips (1:32 PM)
Rockies fans could point to Dexter Fowler as their guy as well.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
The Rangers have gone through at least 5 catchers this year. Do they regret not resigning Laird? Is Pudge a potent addition to their lineup?
Steve Phillips (1:33 PM)
They do not regret trading Laird. They just thought it was time for him to move on. They have gone through different options behind the plate, but all of them have been pretty good. I think Pudge gives them a veteran presence on a very young team, which could help down the stretch. If they miss the playoffs, it won't be because of their catchers. Teagarden, Saltalamacchia, and Rodriguez should be able to handle this young staff.
Steve Phillips (1:34 PM)
We're in the dog days of August and are separating the men from the boys. It should be interesting over the next few weeks. Keep an eye on the waiver wire. Stay tuned!